Sliding Table Saw Tips and Tricks

Sliding tables saws ease the work, but there's a knack to using them. In this thread experienced hands help a new slider owner learn a few dance steps. July 22, 2005

I just brought in a new Altendorf F 45. I knew I would still have to work for a living when I dropped all that cash, but now I feel like I'm all thumbs, or in this case hips. I must be missing some basics. I would like some advice from experienced operators on the ins-outs of slider operation. If your ripping a full sheet into 8'l 12"w strips, are you using the deck or rip fence? Either one seems awkward to me. Either I'm cramped between the deck and fence or struggling to keep a full sheet steady while using the deck to rip a 12" piece. I was also wondering why the deck is moving while trying to load a sheet. Those are just two small examples. Any help would be appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor H:
To rip 12"x96" pieces, you set the rip fence at 12" and pull it back so there is no kickback. There is a locking device on the side or end of the sliding carriage that is used by novices to load a sheet. If you have a forklift it is easier to load, but not a necessity. Make a mark on your crosscut fence at 48.875 or 48.75 and use that as a guide for your trim rip cut, taking off the rough edge.

Stand behind the sheet with the sliding bar behind your rear end and push it against the cross cut fence. Then walk it through the rip cut. There is an additional sliding support in the middle of the carriage area that can be moved around to give full support for the sheet. Perhaps you can get another cabinetmaker to give you an hour of his time as there are some tricks to make things easier.

From contributor S:
I think the learning curve is pretty steep on sliding table saws. After a few jobs you will be very comfortable with your new saw. If I am ripping pieces like you stated, I use the cross cut deck. First I cross cut the rough edge and then I place that edge on the cross cut fence and trim off that factory edge. I have two stops on my cross cut fence. I set one to rip the sheet in half and one to the final width, in your scenario 12". Any thing smaller than 8" I use the rip fence.

Everyone is going to have different opinions on the best or right way to use your saw, but you'll figure out what works best for you with time. As far as the slider moving while loading, there should be a locking cam that will lock the table into position while you load. After a while you won't use the lock because you will get used to the fact that the table moves.

Your feelings of regret will soon fade away, I assure you. The speed and accuracy of the saw you just purchased will more than pay for itself relatively quickly. Aside from that, it will make your work life much more enjoyable and far less exhausting and dangerous.

From contributor B:
I would cross cut first, the stress in the material isn't as critical because of the shorter length. Most everything is cut on the carriage, and I hardly use the rip fence except as a stop for length. Cabinet parts are easy, but small parts can be a challenge compared to a normal table saw. For loading the saw I slide sheets onto a Rubbermaid garbage can with wheels, roll it to the saw and slide them off. The Rubbermaid is exactly the right height for my saw. In time you will appreciate this saw, it is money well spent.

From contributor C:
The Hafele shop cart was one of the smartest investments that I made for material handling. I use it to temporarily store, move, and load up to 10 4x8 sheets onto my CNC router bed.

From contributor M:
I think there is a post on squaring panels on the saw. I would look at previous posts about sliders and panel saws in the knowledge base.

As for tips and tricks; when I make cuts, it is important to start with a good edge. If I am ripping 12x96, I put the 96 against the crosscut fence and trim the 48" side. Then I spin that fresh edge against the crosscut fence and make a dust cut. I trim the 96 edge with the fresh 48 against the fence. I like to leave about a 1/16 or 1/8" lying on the table. It is best to have meat on both sides of the blade when making a cut.

Now you have a perfect 90. Take your rip fence and move it back so that it does not extend past the main blade. Set it at 12". Now slide the material along the crosscut fence until it touches the rip fence. Make sure that the fresh 48 is pushed up squarely against the cc fence, and touching the rip. Feel free to lock the carriage while you are doing this. I just push against the butt bar to hold the carriage still.

Now, place your right hand on the material and the carriage top. This is your clamp. Keep your hand and material still as you walk it through the cut. You will also need to support the material to the far side of the blade. So take your left hand and lift until the material is flat to the table. As you begin to walk, think about your actions as if shooting pool. You have your stick in you hand, and you want to make a straight line from here to where you want the ball to go. So you push with a smooth, straight motion. Think about making a straight cut. You will need to hold your hand still. Push straight against the cc fence, and keep pressure down on the table. Keep it still and walk, with your feet under you, not at the left of you. The tendency is to push the material into the blade, and you get a banana cut.

Repeat this for the first and second cuts of your 12x96. Next, you will have to move the fence forward and rip as usual for the 3rd and 4th cuts. You do not have enough material resting against the cc fence to make an accurate cut. You have roughly 9" left on the cc fence as you are pushing 24". The rip fence will be more accurate.

As others have said, it is awkward to rip small pieces on a slider. It is made to handle large pieces safely and accurately. Smaller pieces are a challenge. Be careful.

Once you get some time under your belt, learn to dance with your machine. As the material has finished the cut, keep it going, but you stand still and hang on to an edge. The carriage will travel, the sheet will spin, and you do not have to wrangle with the piece to get it turned. It takes some practice, and some timing and coordination. But those extra steps saved on each sheet sure add up at the end of the day.